Mid-season report: Liverpool

Sports Mole looks back on how Liverpool have progressed during the opening five months of the Premier League season.

As the Premier League heads into 2014, Liverpool are fifth in the table and six points behind leaders Arsenal.

If they were being brutally honest, most supporters of the Reds would have taken that scenario had they been offered that at the start of the campaign.

However, it could have been even better for Brendan Rodgers's team, who topped the standings going into the Boxing Day matches.

Here, Sports Mole takes a closer look at how the first half of Liverpool's season has unfolded.

August

Under George Graham, Arsenal supporters would often chant '1-0, the the Arsenal'. During the opening few weeks of the campaign, it's a song that could have been adopted by the Anfield faithful.

On the first day of the new season, Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal of the game against Stoke City, who saw debutant Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet save a late penalty from Jonathan Walters. A week later, the same scoreline and goalscorer saw off Aston Villa at Villa Park. As for the League Cup, League One side Notts County forced extra time, but were eventually beaten 4-2.

Daniel Sturridge rounds Brad Guzan to score for Liverpool against Aston Villa on August 24, 2013© Getty Images

In terms of transfers, Rodgers was active, recruiting Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori, Victor Moses and Aly Cissokho towards the end of the window. There were also a handful of departures, including Stewart Downing, Oussama Assaidi and Fabio Borini.

September

January signing Sturridge was proving himself to be a snip at £15m when he scored in the third 1-0 victory in succession, this time against Manchester United at Anfield. It meant that the Merseysiders had a 100% winning Premier League record at this point without Luis Suarez, who would not return from suspension until later in the month.

Sturridge found the net again next time out, but Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw away at Swansea City. Then, the 1-0 scoreline came back to haunt the Reds when Southampton returned to the South Coast with all three points.

The team was lifted, though, when Suarez was reinstated for the League Cup trip to Man United. The Uruguayan looked sharp despite a lengthy absence, but United striker Javier Hernandez scored the only goal as the hosts progressed.

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on September 01, 2013© Getty Images

However, Suarez marked his return to Premier League action in style, scoring twice during a 3-1 victory away at struggling Sunderland.

October

The third month of the season saw pundits salivate at the partnership that Suarez and Sturridge had started to form. During the three October matches (a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United and a 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion), Suarez scored four goals, while Sturridge weighed in with three.

It was form that resulted in the media dubbing the pair 'the new SAS' - a term that was given to Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton during Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title-winning campaign.

Suarez himself agreed with the hype, telling reporters: "Daniel and I are combining very well and I believe we are one of the most dangerous pairs of strikers in Europe."

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates his team's second goal with team-mate Luis Suarez during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19, 2013© Getty Images

November

The free-scoring duo were largely absent as Liverpool slumped to a 2-0 defeat away at leaders Arsenal at the beginning of November. It was an outcome and performance that resulted in many questioning Liverpool's title credentials.

The response was positive, though, thanks to a 4-0 victory at the expense of Fulham. This was followed by an entertaining Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, which ended with the rivals sharing six goals evenly. Sturridge was the hero, coming off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser, which saw his side end the month in second place, four points behind the Gunners.

December

Hull City have one of the best home defensive records in Europe and they continued that form for Liverpool's visit to the KC Stadium, winning through 3-1. In turn, Rodgers's team dropped down to fourth.

Nevertheless, the remainder of December would belong to Suarez, who put in the type of performances that resulted in his captain Steven Gerrard and his manager saying that he was the best player in world football. The striker ended the month with nine goals to his name - a feat that no other player has achieved since the Premier League was introduced back in 1992.

Captain Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on December 15, 2013© Getty Images

The highlight was a 5-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, with Gerrard absent through injury. Without the skipper, Jordan Henderson shone in midfield, while Suarez helped himself to two goals.

A routine 3-1 win over Cardiff City next time out saw Liverpool sit top on Christmas Day, ahead of crucial festive fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea. The displays were positive, but an error in each contest by goalkeeper Mignolet resulted in 2-1 defeats.

In four days, Liverpool had slumped from leaders to occupiers of the Europa League qualifying spot. Even so, it shouldn't detract from what has been a largely positive opening 19 encounters of the campaign.

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 Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Liverpool at KC Stadium on December 1, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27233179205972
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd27175551193256
3Liverpool27159361313054
4Chelsea27165649232653
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs27157552242852
6Arsenal27136851361545
7Burnley279992124-336
8Leicester CityLeicester2798103940-135
9Everton2797113246-1434
10Bournemouth2787123141-1031
11Watford2786133747-1030
12West Ham UnitedWest Ham2779113446-1230
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2777132536-1128
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton27610112236-1428
15Crystal Palace2769122542-1727
16Swansea CitySwansea2776142037-1727
17Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2776142347-2427
18Southampton27511112840-1226
19Stoke CityStoke2767142753-2625
20West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom27311132140-1920
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